Glenn Greenwald Charged With Cybercrimes in Brazil

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Federal prosecutors in Brazil on Tuesday charged the American journalist Glenn Greenwald with cybercrimes for his role in bringing to light cellphone messages that have embarrassed prosecutors and tarnished the image of an anti-corruption task force.

In a criminal complaint made public on Tuesday, prosecutors in the capital, Brasília, accused Mr. Greenwald of being part of a “criminal organization” that hacked into the cellphones of several prosecutors and other public officials last year.

Mr. Greenwald, an ardent critic of Brazil’s far right president, Jair Bolsonaro, is a deeply polarizing figure in Brazil, where his work is lionized by leftists and condemned as partisan and heavy handed by officials in the Bolsonaro administration.

The news organization Mr. Greenwald co-founded, The Intercept Brasil, published articles last year based on the leaked cellphone messages that raised questions about the integrity and the motives of key members of Brazil’s justice system.

For instance, prosecutors contend that Mr. Greenwald encouraged the hackers to delete archives that had already been shared with The Intercept Brasil, in order to cover their tracks.

Prosecutors also say that Mr. Greenwald was communicating with the hackers while they were actively monitoring private chats on Telegram, a messaging app. The complaint charged six other individuals, including four who were detained last year in connection with the cellphone hacking.

Legal experts and leftist politicians criticized the decision to charge Mr. Greenwald, calling the evidence outlined against him thin.

Thiago Bottino, a legal expert at Fundação Getúlio Vargas University in Rio de Janeiro, said prosecutors have not described evidence that suggests Mr. Greenwald broke the law.

“There’s nothing in the complaint showing that he helped or guided” the hackers, he said.

Mr. Bottino said Brazil’s case law gives journalists broad protections. “You can’t punish a journalist for divulging a document that was obtained through criminal means,” he said.

Gleisi Hoffman, the president of the Workers’ Party, the largest opposition party, called the charge an abuse of power.

“They want a police state, with more farces, illegalities and arbitrary acts,” she wrote in a message on Twitter.

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